Heart’s Birth

He tumbles in the back door,
Wooden screen door slamming.
Just learning the language, he stumbles out with
“Guess what, Mommy… Guess what!?”
And grace happens there.

She smiles, looks up, puts down pen,
Spoon, telephone receiver, perhaps computer mouse.
And births a storyteller,
Right there in the kitchen in his third June,
With her simple waiting word--

Then joy of knock-knock jokes at five.
How two such simple words can make adults
Stop. Look. Wait.
It is power, not lost on small souls.
Even if there is no punchline.

He grows, slowly, into a storyteller:
A good Salesman, a Preacher, a Professor.
He has learned to expect,
Just often enough,
His lover at the door with the delicious opening,
“Tell me…”

It is all round and warm and welcoming,
Often enough.

after hearing Grace Paley